Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau: Cultural diplomacy helps to duplicate nation’s soft power

Having been to more than 100 countries and thus having lived, studied and worked for dozens of years abroad, veteran diplomat Pham Sanh Chau has made significant contributions to realising Vietnam’s cultural diplomacy strategy.

Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau: Cultural diplomacy helps to duplicate nation’s soft power
Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau

Chau, who is currently working as the Vietnamese Ambassador to India, Nepal and Bhutan, granted an interview to Nhan Dan Monthly Newspaper to share his 20-year diplomatic career during which he has ceaselessly worked to promote cultural diplomacy, thus helping to duplicate Vietnam’s soft power.

Question: You have recently posted a story on your Facebook about a Vietnamese restaurant in Gurgaon city, India, which was launched on May 19 – the birthdate of our beloved President Ho Chi Minh. The restaurant’s chef, who is Indian, can cook most Vietnamese dishes; all the staff there wear Vietnamese conical hats and the Vietnam’s map, including both Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, were printed in their uniform. Can you please tell us more about the restaurant?

Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau: When he came to say farewell to me before I left for India, Indresnil – a representative from the Tata Group in Vietnam told me that there is no Vietnamese restaurant in New Delhi. There was one at the Taj Mahal but it was closed down due to ineffective operation.

The information made me sad since Vietnam’s strong advantage of cuisine has not yet been fully promoted in the country, which meant that I can’t afford to introduce one of the pillars of Vietnam’s soft power to my friends.

I felt worried at the same time as there are many Vietnamese delegations visiting India every year, whist Indian food isn’t likely to be in their favourite list. Therefore, helping to open a Vietnamese restaurant in India had become an urgent order for me.

Can you please tell us how you made the order come true?

I have set a number of goals for my Indian tenure, but the three most important ones including launching a new direct air route linking the two countries, installing a statue of Uncle Ho in New Delhi, and opening a Vietnamese restaurant in the host country.

However, it is not easy to realise the third goal. I had questioned what made it difficult to bring Vietnamese cuisine closer to the country. Finally, I figured out the answer to the question when I was invited to a wedding hosted by family of Indian billionaire Nitin Shad in Vietnam’s Phu Quoc island in March this year.

Serving around 700 guests, Shad came to Vietnam with a strong staff including 50 chefs, sous chefs, and tonnes of Indian spices and food.

Replying to my question on why he didn’t order Vietnamese food, he said that Vietnamese cuisine doesn’t appeal to Indians’ taste. Up to 50% of Indians are vegans, who said that Vietnamese food is quite boring as it lacks salt, isn’t spicy, the signature Indian aroma, and creamy sauces. Meanwhile, Indians like eating with their hands, no matter what their social background is.

Fortunately, at that time I received an email from Vaibhav Bhargava, an Indian chef who loves Vietnamese food so much that he came to Vietnam’s Nha Trang city to attend a three-month cooking class. He visited me when he returned to India and asked for help. The knot of my third goal was untied; and a Vietnamese restaurant was born after.

 

I invited around 15 ambassadors and their spouses to the opening ceremony and debuted a club of food ambassadors on the occasion. I also invited Preeti Saran, former Indian Deputy Foreign Minister and former Indian Ambassador to Vietnam, and her spouse Pankaj Saran, former Deputy National Security Adviser, to the event. I chose May 19 to inaugurate the restaurant as a practical activity to celebrate President Ho Chi Minh’s birthday.

Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau: Cultural diplomacy helps to duplicate nation’s soft power

A performance of India’s Odissi dance at the Heritage Boulevard artistic programme held in Ha Nam province in May 2019

Most recently, you invited art troupes from India and Bhutan to attend the Vietnam Television’s ‘Heritage Boulevard’ programme in Vietnam. Can you please tell us about what brought you to the programme?

For the last nine months, I have visited 20 out of 29 states in India. I was most impressed by a visit to Odisha, a coastal state in eastern region of the country. Odisha used to be an ancient kingdom with at least 5,000-year history. Bestowed with poetic landscape and thousands of holy temples, Odisha is also well-known for its classical dance Odissi.

I was captivated immediately when I directly admired the charming dance for the first time. Although I had heard about the Indian art of dancing and had enjoyed several Indian dances in Vietnam before, I was completely enchanted by the body movements and facial expressions of the artists while watching the performance right in the birthplace of the dance. It was such an unforgettable memory of mine that I wanted to introduce the charming dance to Vietnamese audience.

It came as an accident that I then received a message from journalist Diem Quynh from the Vietnam Television calling the Embassy’ help to invite a 10-member art troupe to attend the ‘Heritage Boulevard’ programme, which would be broadcast live on May 12 from the Tam Chuc pagoda in Ha Nam province.

Can you please tell us about how you selected the Indian and Bhutanese art troupes to the programme?

Journalist Diem Quynh reiterated that I had to choose the most outstanding art troupes to the ‘Heritage Boulevard’ programme. The Mask Dance Art Troupe is the most prominent one in Bhutan.

Regarding India, I decided to nominate the art of Odissi dance. However, as there are a lot of art troupes practicing the classical dance, I must ask for consultancy from the Director General of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Finally, the Aniruddha Das & Group, which most of the members come from Odisha state, was selected.

Thank you so much for your sharing!

Nhan Dan

 
 

Other News

.
Tech giants building on ICT potential
Tech giants building on ICT potential
FEATUREicon  23/01/2021 

Vietnam’s ICT market is expected to see a big 5G race in 2021 as international tech giants look to boost partnerships with local telcos to gain more advantages, driven by strong performances in Vietnam in 2020.

Flower villages still waiting for Tet buyers
Flower villages still waiting for Tet buyers
FEATUREicon  22/01/2021 

Farmers in flower villages in HCM City are worried as merchants have not contacted them yet for Tet sale season.

Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment announces top 10 events
Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment announces top 10 events
FEATUREicon  21/01/2021 

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha has signed a decision announcing the top 10 events of the sector last year. Below are the selected events.

Stock market plummets, $10 billion lost
Stock market plummets, $10 billion lost
FEATUREicon  21/01/2021 

The Vietnamese stock market saw an unprecedented plunge on January 19. But panic did not occur.

Architect warns Thu Duc City needs thorough planning, from strategy to implementation
Architect warns Thu Duc City needs thorough planning, from strategy to implementation
FEATUREicon  21/01/2021 

Ngo Viet Nam Son, a respected architect, said Thu Duc City needs methodical planning to avoid becoming just a huge real estate project.

Young PhD promotes organ donation registration to save lives
Young PhD promotes organ donation registration to save lives
FEATUREicon  21/01/2021 

With his health and job in good condition, a young lecturer at the HCM City University of Forestry and Agriculture with a doctorate registered to donate his organs after death to convey the message that ‘giving is forever existing’.

Vietnam vows to control digital technology powerhouses
Vietnam vows to control digital technology powerhouses
FEATUREicon  20/01/2021 

How to force cross-border social networks to observe the laws of the host countries is a challenge not only for Vietnam but for all countries.

Volunteers for vaccine trial: if people are overcome by fear, the vaccines won’t succeed
Volunteers for vaccine trial: if people are overcome by fear, the vaccines won’t succeed
FEATUREicon  20/01/2021 

“If everyone just sits and waits and no one dares to get a vaccine injection trial, the vaccine won't be successful,” said one of the first three volunteers in the Nanocovax vaccine trial.

Land prices soar in HCM City's neighboring provinces
Land prices soar in HCM City's neighboring provinces
FEATUREicon  22/01/2021 

While the HCM City market has remained quiet since the Covid-19 outbreak, land prices have been increasing in the neighboring markets of Dong Nai, Long An and Binh Duong.

Earning VND10 trillion within two months, 'boss Thuy' enters top list of billionaires
Earning VND10 trillion within two months, 'boss Thuy' enters top list of billionaires
FEATUREicon  20/01/2021 

With VND10.7 trillion, Nguyen Duc Thuy, known as boss Thuy, will become the 12th richest stock billionaire. Two months ago, his stock assets were worth less than VND1 trillion.

Highways open to traffic, clear the way to more development in Mekong Delta
Highways open to traffic, clear the way to more development in Mekong Delta
FEATUREicon  19/01/2021 

A number of highways have opened to traffic recently in the Mekong Delta, which has a regional population of 20 million.

Social media – a revolution to be feared
Social media – a revolution to be feared
FEATUREicon  15/01/2021 

“The right to freedom of opinion is of fundamental importance,” Steffen Seibert, spokesperson for Angela Merkel, said at a press conference on Monday, adding that Merkel had considered Trump’s Twitter ban “problematic".

Promising figures offering confidence for pharma future
Promising figures offering confidence for pharma future
FEATUREicon  15/01/2021 

Vietnamese pharmaceutical giants rushed to new business lines in 2020 to create new motivation for growth amid the ongoing pandemic complications, with some changes bringing about better results.

What policies are needed for Thu Duc City to 'take off'?
What policies are needed for Thu Duc City to 'take off'?
FEATUREicon  17/01/2021 

HCM City Mayor Nguyen Thanh Phong said that several things need to be done initially under the ‘working while running’ principle for Thu Duc City, and the most important is a special mechanism that will enable the city to "take off".

Thu Duc City to serve as new growth engine for HCM City
Thu Duc City to serve as new growth engine for HCM City
FEATUREicon  14/01/2021 

Thu Duc City is expected to make up 30 percent of GRDP of HCM City, or 7 percent of GDP of the entire country, thus serving as the new driving force for HCM City to grow rapidly in a sustainable way.

Experts warn about risky investments in gold and stocks
Experts warn about risky investments in gold and stocks
FEATUREicon  15/01/2021 

With increasingly rapid developments occurring in the gold and stock markets, economic experts believe these represent risky investment channels, with investors needing to carefully consider all of their financial decisions.

Growing vegetables in Africa, Vietnamese solders respected by international friends
Growing vegetables in Africa, Vietnamese solders respected by international friends
FEATUREicon  17/01/2021 

Each soldier and officer in the People’s Army serving in the Vietnam’s Green Beret force acts as an ambassador and a bridge that links Vietnam and other countries in their missions.

Covid-19 forces travel firms to undergo restructuring
Covid-19 forces travel firms to undergo restructuring
FEATUREicon  14/01/2021 

For travel firms to survive the pandemic, they have had to undergo restructuring.

The once-famous village in Hanoi where people got rich with embroidery products
The once-famous village in Hanoi where people got rich with embroidery products
FEATUREicon  19/01/2021 

Nguyen Bi Village in Quat Dong in Hanoi was once a well-known embroidery craft village which produced high-quality embroidery products for sale the export market

Vietnam to launch competitive retail electricity market in 2023
Vietnam to launch competitive retail electricity market in 2023
FEATUREicon  16/01/2021 

Vietnam Electricity will conduct price marketization to encourage investment in electricity industry and follow the State-regulated market mechanism.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN